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THE  famous  slab  of  black  basalt  which  stands  at  the  southern  end  of  the 
Egyptian  Gallery  in  the  British  Museum,  and  which  has  for  more  than  a 
century  been  universally  known  as  the  "  Rosetta  Stone,"  was  found  at  a 
spot  near  the  mouth  of  the  great  arm  of  the  Nile  that  flows  through 
the  Western  Delta  to  the  sea,  not  far  from  the  town  of  "Rashid,"  or  as  Europeans 
call  it,  "  Rosetta."  According  to  one  account  it  was  found  lying  on  the  ground, 
and  according  to  another  it  was  built  into  a  very  old  wall,  which  a  company  of 
French  soldiers  had  been  ordered  to  remove  in  order  to  make  way  for  the  foundations 
of  an  addition  to  the  fort,  afterwards  known  as  "Fort  St.  Julien."*  The  actual 
finder  of  the  Stone  was  a  French  Officer  of  Engineers,  whose  name  is  sometimes 
spelt  Boussard,  and  sometimes  Bouchard,  who  subsequently  rose  to  the  rank  of 
General,  and  was  alive  in  1814.  He  made  his  great  discovery  in  August,  1799. 
Finding  that  there  were  on  one  side  of  the  Stone  lines  of  strange  characters, 
which  it  was  thought  might  be  writing,  as  well  as  long  lines  of  Greek  letters, 
Boussard  reported  his  discovery  to  General  Menou,  who  ordered  him  to  bring 
the  Stone  to  his  house  in  Alexandria.  This  was  immediately  done,  and  the  Stone 
was,  for  about  two  years,  regarded  as  the  General's  private  property.  When 
Napoleon  heard  of  the  Stone,  he  ordered  it  to  be  taken  to  Cairo  and  placed  in  the 
"  Institut  National,"  which  he  had  recently  founded  in  that  city.  On  its  arrival 
in  Cairo  it  became  at  once  an  object  of  the  deepest  interest  to  the  body  of  learned 
men  whom  Napoleon  had  taken  with  him  on  his  expedition  to  Egypt,  and  the 
Emperor  himself  exhibited  the  greatest  curiosity  in  respect  of  the  contents  of  the 
inscriptions  cut  upon  it.  He  at  once  ordered  a  number  of  copies  of  the  Stone  to 
be  made  for  distribution  among  the  scholars  of  Europe,  and  two  skilled  litho- 
graphers, "citizens  Marcel  and  Galland,"  were  specially  brought  to  Cairo  from 
Paris  to  make  them.  The  plan  which  they  followed  was  to  cover  the  surface  of  the 
Stone  with  printer's  ink,  and  then  to  lay  upon  it  a  sheet  of  paper  which  they  rolled 
with  india-rubber  rollers  until  a  good  impression  had  been  taken.  Several  of  these 
ink  impressions  were  sent  to  scholars  of  great  repute  in  many  parts  of  Europe,  and 
in  the  autumn  of  1801  General  Dagua  took  two  to  Paris,  where  he  committed  them 
to  the  care  of  "  citizen  Du  Theil  "  of  the  Institut  National  of  Paris. 


After  the  successful  operations  of  Sir  Ralph  Abercromby  in  Egypt  in  the 
spring  of  1801,  a  Treaty  of  Capitulation  was  drawn  up,  and  by  Article  XVI  the 
Rosetta  Stone  and  several  other  large  and  important  Egyptian  antiquities  were 
surrendered  to  General  Hutchinson  at  the  end  of  August  in  that  year.  Some 
of  these  he  despatched  at  once  to  England  in  H.M.S.  "Admiral,"  and  others  in 
H.M.S.  "Madras,"  but  the  Rosetta  Stone  did  not  leave  Egypt  until  later  in  the 

"  This  fort  is  marked  on  Napoleon's  Map  of  Egypt,  and  it  stood  on  the  left  or  west  bank  of  the  Rosetta 
arm  of  the  Nile. 

(7993)  A 


year.  After  the  ink  impressions  had  been  taken  from  it,  the  Stone  was  transferred 
from  Cairo  to  General  Menou's  house  in  Alexandria,  where  it  was  kept  covered 
with  cloth  and  under  a  double  matting.  In  September,  1801,  Major-General 
Turner  claimed  the  Stone  by  virtue  of  the  Treaty  mentioned  above,  but  as  it 
was  generally  regarded  as  the  French  General's  private  property,  the  surrender 
of  it  was  accompanied  by  some  difficulty.  In  the  following  month  Major- 
General  Turner  obtained  possession  of  the  Stone,  and  embarked  with  it  on 
H.M.S.  "L'Egyptienne,"  and  arrived  at  Portsmouth  in  February,  1802.  On 
March  11  it  was  deposited  at  the  rooms  of  the  Society  of  Antiquaries  of  London, 
where  it  remained  for  a  few  months,  and  the  writings  upon  it  were  submitted 
to  a  very  careful  examination  by  many  Oriental  and  Greek  scholars.  In  July 
the  President  of  the  Society  caused  four  plaster  casts  of  the  Stone  to  be  made 
for  the  Universities  of  Oxford,  Cambridge,  Edinburgh  and  Dublin,  and  had  good 
copies  of  the  Greek  text  engraved,  and  despatched  to  all  the  great  Universities, 
Libraries,  Academies  and  Societies  in  Europe.  Towards  the  close  of  the  year 
the  Stone  was  removed  from  the  Rooms  of  the  Society  of  Antiquaries  to  the 
British  Museum,  where  it  was  mounted  and  at  once  exhibited  to  the  general 


The  Rosetta  Stone  in  its  present  state  is  an  irregularly- shaped  slab  of 
compact  black  basalt,  which  measures  about  3  feet  9  inches  in  length,  2  feet 
4|  inches  in  width,  and  11  inches  in  thickness.  The  top  right  and  left  hand 
corners,  and  the  right  hand  bottom  corner,  are  wanting.  It  is  not  possible 
to  say  how  much  of  the  Stone  is  missing,  but  judging  by  the  proportion  which 
exists  between  the  lengths  of  the  inscriptions  that  are  now  upon  it,  we  may 
assume  that  when  it  was  complete  it  was  at  least  12  inches  longer  than  it  is 
now.  The  upper  end  of  the  Stone  was  probably  rounded,  and,  if  we  may  judge 
from  the  reliefs  found  on  stelae  of  this  class  of  the  Ptolemaic  Period,  the  front 
of  the  rounded  part  was  sculptured  with  a  figure  of  the  Winged  Disk  of  Horus 
of  Edfu,  having  pendent  uraei,  one  wearing  the  Crown  of  the  South,  and  the 
other  the  Crown  of  the  North.  (See  the  Cast  of  the  Decree  of  Canopus  in  Bay  28, 
No.  957.)  Below  the  Winged  Disk  there  may  have  been  a  relief,  in  which  the 
king  was  seen  standing,  with  his  queen,  in  the  presence  of  a  series  of  gods, 
similar  to  that  found  on  one  of  the  copies  mentioned  below  of  the  inscriptions 
on  the  Rosetta  Stone.  Whatever  the  sculptured  decoration  may  have  been,  it  is 
tolerably  certain  that,  when  the  Stone  was  in  a  complete  state,  it  must  have 
been  between  five  and  six  feet  in  height,  and  that  when  mounted  upon  a  suitable 
plinth,  and  set  up  near  the  statue  of  the  king  in  whose  honour  it  was  engraved, 
it  formed  a  prominent  monument  in  the  temple  in  which  it  was  set  up. 

The  INSCRIPTION  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  is  written  in  two  languages, 
that  is  to  say,  in  EGYPTIAN  and  in  GREEK.  The  EGYPTIAN  portion  of  it 
is  cut  upon  it  in  :  I.  the  HIEROGLYPHIC  CHARACTER,  that  is  to  say,  in 
the  old  picture  writing  which  was  employed  from  the  earliest  dynasties  in  making 
copies  of  the  Book  of  the  Dead,  and  in  nearly  all  state  and  ceremonial  documents 
that  were  intended  to  be  seen  by  the  public  ;  and  II.  the  DEMOTIC 
CHARACTER,  that  is  to  say,  the  conventional,  abbreviated  and  modified  form 

of  the  HIERATIC  character,  or  cursive  form  of  hieroglyphic  writing,  which 
was  in  use  in  the  Ptolemaic  Period.  The  GREEK  portion  of  the  inscription 
is  cut  in  ordinary  uncials.  The  hieroglyphic  text  consists  of  14  lines  only, 
and  these  correspond  to  the  last  28  lines  of  the  Greek  text.  The  Demotic  text 
consists  of  32  lines,  the  first  14  being  imperfect  at  the  beginnings,  and  the  Greek 
text  consists  of  54  lines,  the  last  26  being  imperfect  at  the  ends.  A  large  portion 
of  the  missing  lines  of  the  hieroglyphic  text  can  be  restored  from  a  stele 
discovered  in  1898  at  Damanhur  in  the  Delta  (Hermopolis  Parva),  and  now  in  the 
Egyptian  Museum  in  Cairo  (No.  5576),  and  from  the  copy  of  a  text  of  the  Decree 
cut  on  the  walls  of  a  temple  at  Philae,  and  the  correctness  of  the  restorations  of 
broken  passages  in  the  Demotic  and  Greek  texts  being  evident,  we  are  justified 
in  assuming  that  we  have  the  inscription  of  the  Rosetta  Stone  complete  both  in 
Egyptian  and  Greek. 


The  first  translation  of  the  Greek  text  was  made  by  the  Rev.  Stephen 
Weston,  and  was  read  by  him  before  the  Society  of  Antiquaries  of  London  in 
April,  1802.  This  was  quickly  followed  by  a  French  translation  made  by 
"citizen  Du  Theil,"  who  declared  that  the  Stone  was  "a  monument  of  the 
gratitude  of  some  priests  of  Alexandria,  or  some  neighbouring  place,  towards 
Ptolemy  Epiphanes  "  ;  and  a  Latin  translation  by  "citizen  Ameilhon  "  appeared 
in  Paris  in  the  spring  of  1803.  The  first  studies  of  the  Demotic  text  were  those  of 
Silvestre  de  Sacy  and  Akerblad  in  1802,  and  the  latter  succeeded  in  making  out  the 
general  meaning  of  portions  of  the  opening  lines,  and  in  identifying  the  equivalents 
of  the  names  of  Alexander,  Alexandria,  Ptolemy,  Isis,  etc.  Both  de  Sacy  and 
Akerblad  began  their  labours  by  attacking  the  Demotic  equivalents  of  the 
cartouches,  i.e.  the  ovals  containing  royal  names  in  the  hieroglyphic  text.  In 
1818  Dr.  Thomas  Young  compiled  for  the  fourth  volume  of  the  "  Encyclopaedia 
Britannica  '  (published  in  1819)  the  results  of  his  studies  of  the  texts  on  the 
Rosetta  Stone,  and  among  them  was  a  list  of  several  alphabetic  Egyptian 
characters  to  which,  in  most  cases,  he  had  assigned  correct  values.  He  was  the 
first  to  grasp  the  idea  of  a  phonetic  principle  in  the  reading  of  the  Egyptian 
hieroglyphs,  and  he  was  the  first  to  apply  it  to  their  decipherment.  Warburton, 
de  Guignes,  Barthelemy  and  Zoega  all  suspected  the  existence  of  alphabetic 
hieroglyphics,  and  the  three  last-named  scholars  believed  that  the  oval,  or 

cartouche  ("  ],   contained   a   proper,   or    royal   name.     But  it  was  Young   who 

first  proved  both  points,  and  successfully  deciphered  the  name  of  Ptolemy  on 
the  Rosetta  Stone,  and  that  of  Berenice  on  another  monument.  Another  successful 
decipherer  at  this  time  was  Mr.  J.  W.  Bankes,  who,  in  1818,  deciphered  the 
name  of  Cleopatra  on  the  granite  obelisk  that  he  had  excavated  at  Philae  in  1815. 
In  1822  the  list  of  alphabetic  Egyptian  characters  that  had  been  drawn  up  by 
Young  was  corrected  and  greatly  enlarged  by  J.  F.  Champollion,  who,  between 
that  date  and  the  year  of  his  death,  correctly  deciphered  the  hieroglyphic  forms 
of  the  names  and  titles  of  most  of  the  Roman  Emperors,  and  drew  up  a  classified 
list  of  Egyptian  hieroglyphs,  and  formulated  a  system  of  grammar  and  general 

(7993)  A  2 

decipherment  which  is  the  foundation  whereon  all  later  Egyptologists  have  worked. 
The  discovery  of  the  correct  alphabetic  values  of  Egyptian  signs  was  most  useful 
for  reading  names,  but  for  translating  the  Egyptian  language  a  competent 
knowledge  of  Coptic  was  required.  Now  Coptic  is  only  a  name  meaning 
"Egyptian."  The  Egyptians  who  embraced  Christianity  after  the  preaching 
of  Saint  Mark  at  Alexandria  are  called  "Copts,"  and  the  translations  of  the 
Holy  Scriptures,  Liturgies,  etc.,  which  they  made  from  Greek  into  their  native 
Egyptian  language  soon  after  their  conversion  to  Christianity,  are  said  to  be 
written  in  "Coptic."  The  knowledge  of  Coptic  has  never  been  lost,  and  a 
comparatively  large  sacred  literature  has  always  been  available  in  manuscripts 
for  study  by  scholars.  Champollion,  whilst  still  a  youth  in  the  early  years 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  realized  the  great  importance  of  Coptic  for  the  purpose 
of  Egyptian  decipherment,  and  he  studied  it  to  such  good  purpose  that  he  became 
an  authority  on  the  language  and  literature  of  the  Copts.  In  his  studies  of  the 
inscription  on  the  Rosetta  Stone,  his  knowledge  of  Coptic  enabled  him  to  deduce 
the  phonetic  values  of  many  syllabic  signs,  and  to  assign  correct  readings  to 
many  pictorial  characters,  the  meanings  of  which  were  made  known  to  him 
by  the  Greek  text  on  the  Stone. 


The    method    by    which    the    greater    part    of    the    Egyptian    alphabet    was 
recovered  is  this:  It  was  assumed  correctly  that  the  oval  f  J,  or  "cartouche  " 

as  it  is  called,  always  contained  a  royal  name.  There  is  only  one  cartouche  (five 
times  repeated  with  slight  modifications)  on  the  Rosetta  Stone,  and  this  was  assumed 
to  contain  the  name  of  Ptolemy,  because  it  was  certain  from  the  Greek  text  that  the 
inscription  concerned  a  Ptolemy.  It  was  also  assumed  that  if  the  cartouche  did 
contain  the  name  of  Ptolemy,  the  characters  in  it  would  have  the  sounds  of  the  Greek 
letters,  and  that  all  together  they  would  represent  the  Greek  form  of  the  name 
of  Ptolemy.  Now  on  the  obelisk  which  Mr.  Bankes  had  brought  from  Philae 
there  is  an  inscription  in  two  languages,  Egyptian  and  Greek.  In  the  Greek  portion 
of  it  two  royal  names  are  mentioned,  that  is  to  say,  Ptolemy  and  Cleopatra,  and 
on  the  second  face  of  the  obelisk  there  are  two  cartouches,  which  occur  close 
together,  and  are  filled  with  hieroglyphs  which,  it  was  assumed,  formed  the 
Egyptian  equivalents  of  these  names.  When  these  cartouches  were  compared 
with  the  cartouche  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  it  was  found  that  one  of  them  contained 
hieroglyphic  characters  that  were  almost  identical  with  those  which  filled  the 
cartouche  on  the  Rosetta  Stone.  Thus  there  was  good  reason  io  believe  that 
the  cartouche  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  contained  the  name  of  Ptolemy  written  in 
hieroglyphic  characters.  The  forms  of  the  cartouches  are  as  follows  : 

On   the   Rosetta    Stone 

On   the   Obelisk   from    Phil*    C°  f)  •**  (fl  H 

VoO  i  /  —  i 

The  second  of  these  cartouches  contains  the    sign    ^Tj,  which    is    wanting    in    the 
first,   and  the  single  sign   E=I  takes  the  place  of  the  three   signs      ((  at  the  end 

of  the  first  cartouche.  Now  it  has  already  been  said  that  the  name  of  Cleopatra 
was  found  in  Greek  on  the  Philae  Obelisk,  and  the  cartouche  which  was  assumed 
to  contain  the  Egyptian  equivalent  of  this  name  appears  in  this  form  : 

Taking    the    cartouches   which   were   supposed   to    contain   the   names    of   Ptolemy 
and    Cleopatra   from    the    Philse    Obelisk,    and    numbering    the    signs    we    have  : 

_,,      ,  /"~1       2          ~/~\       4  6  fT/i      fl       0    t^o.         10      11    12          O         14      N 

Ptolemy,   A.    (  D  Q  3^.  Le^^=n«^  T  U-V-9^    o  a  o  ug  E=EI  1 

rvt  T»        /^~1         2  ft        /^\   5      -fT  7  8          -n"        10d"N 

Cleopatra,  B.  (^  j^a{]  ^fjq^c^^]^^  J 

Now  we  see  at  a  glance  that  No.  1  in  A  and  No.  5  in  B  are  identical,  and 
judging  by  their  position  only  in  the  names  they  must  represent  the  letter  P. 
No.  4  in  A  and  No.  2  in  B  are  identical,  and  arguing  as  before  from  their 
position  they  must  represent  the  letter  L.  As  L  is  the  second  letter  in  the 
name  of  Cleopatra,  the  sign  No.  1  A  must  represent  K.  Now  in  the  cartouche 
of  Cleopatra  we  know  the  values  of  Signs  Nos.  1,  2  and  5,  so  we  may  write 
them  down  thus  :  _ 

Ct\         r\  -7L  f  »         "£k        10£i  ~N 

K  L  ^  4fi  p  6:k  *=*  <=»  %  »Q  J 

In  the  Greek  form  of  the  name  of  Cleopatra  there  are  two  vowels  between  the 
L  and  the  P,  and  in  the  hieroglyphic  form  there  are  two  hieroglyphs,  (j  and  ^"|? 
so  we  may  assume  that  (j  =  E  and  •£)  =  O.  In  some  forms  of  the  cartouche  of 

Cleopatra  No.  7  <^>  is  replaced  by  o,  which  is  identical  with  No.  2  in  A  and 
No.  10  in  B.  As  T  follows  P  in  the  name  Ptolemy,  and  as  there  is  a  T  in  the 
Greek  form  of  the  name  of  Cleopatra,  we  may  assume  that  o  and  c^a  have 
substantially  the  same  sound,  and  that  that  sound  is  T.  In  the  Greek  form  of 
the  name  Cleopatra  there  are  two  a's,  the  positions  of  which  agree  with  No.  6 
and  No.  9,  and  we  may  assume  that  ^|\  has  the  value  of  A.  Substituting  these 
values  for  the  hieroglyphs  in  B  we  may  write  it  thus  : 

Cs  10     n"N 

K    L    E    O    P    A    T   <=>   A      O    ^    1 

Thomas  Young  noticed  that  the  two  signs  §  always  followed  the  name  of  a 
goddess,  or  queen,  or  princess,  and  the  other  early  decipherers  regarded  the 
two  signs  as  a  mere  feminine  termination.  The  only  sign  for  which  we  have 
no  phonetic  equivalent  is  No.  8  <=>  and  it  is  obvious  that  this  must  represent  R. 
Inserting  this  value  in  the  cartouche  we  have  the  name  of  Cleopatra  deciphered. 
Applying  now  the  values  which  we  have  learned  from  the  cartouche  of  Cleopatra 
to  the  cartouche  of  Ptolemy  we  may  write  it  thus  : 

f                              t          n  ft      n       n    1—.    10  T  0       u    N 

f     P    T    O     L    / «(m    ill   8-V-   9^  P    T    is!?    EEEE   J 

We  now  see  that  the  cartouche  must  be  that  of  Ptolemy,  but  it  is  also  clear 
that  there  must  be  contained  in  it  many  other  hieroglyphs  which  do  not  form 

part  of  his  name.     Champollion  found  other  forms  of  the  cartouche  of  Ptolemy, 
and  the  simplest  of  them  was  written  thus:    f  D^T|  J  *{jl|Pj.     It    was    therefore 

evident  that  the  other  signs  •¥•  ^H  '  §  1=1  were  royal  titles  corresponding  to  those 

1      ii  m,     V.     £$  A, 

found  in  the  Greek  text  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  meaning  "  ever-living,  beloved  of 
Ptah."  Now  the  Greek  form  of  the  name  Ptolemy,  i.e.  Ptolemaios,  ends  with  S. 
We  may  assume  therefore  that  the  last  sign  in  the  simplest  form  of  the 
cartouche  given  above  has  the  phonetic  value  of  S.  The  only  hieroglyphs  now 
doubtful  are  e=.  and  (1(1,  and  their  position  in  the  name  of  Ptolemy  suggests 

that  their  phonetic  values  must  be  M  and  some  vowel  sound  in  which  the  I 
sound  predominates.  These  values,  which  were  arrived  at  by  guessing  and 
deduction,  were  applied  by  the  early  decipherers  to  other  cartouches,  e.g.  : 

Now,  in  No.  1,  we  can  at  once  write  down  the  values  of  all  the  signs,  viz., 
P.I.L.A.T.R.A,  which  is  obviously  the  Greek  name  Philotera.  In  No.  2 
we  only  know  some  of  the  hieroglyphs,  and  we  write  the  cartouche  thus  : 

(    A    L  ^^*    S    (j    ~ww   T    R  — *—   ] . 

Now    we    know    that    www    occurs    in     the     name 

Berenice,  and  that  it  represents  N,  and  that  .  is  the  last  word  of  the 
transcript  of  the  Greek  title  "Kaisaros,"  and  that  it  therefore  represents  some 
S  sound.  Some  of  the  forms  of  the  cartouche  of  Cleopatra  begin  with  <^*,  and 
it  is  clear  that  its  phonetic  value  must  be  K.  Inserting  these  values  in  the 
above  cartouche  we  have  : 


which  is  clearly  meant  to  represent  the  name  "  Alexandras,"  or  Alexander. 
The  position  of  the  sign  (j  shows  that  it  represented  some  sound  of  E  or  A. 

Returning    to   the    signs    •?•  "^^  °|  T=T  which  we  have  assumed  to  represent 

the  royal  titles  "ever-living,  beloved  of  Ptah,"  we  have  to  decide  whether  this 
assumption  be  correct  or  not.  It  was  known  by  tradition  and  from  Coptic 
Vocabularies  that  the  old  Egyptian  word  for  "life"  or  "living,"  was  "ankh,"  or 

"  onkh,"  and  that  it  was  represented  by  the  symbol  •?•  which  occurs  several  times 
in  the  inscriptions.  It  was  therefore  guessed  that  the  next  signs  nT1  meant  "ever." 
The  Coptic  Vocabularies  state  that  one  of  the  old  Egyptian  words  for  "  ever, 
age,  eternity,"  was  Djet,  and  as  we  already  know  that  the  phonetic  value  of 
the  second  sign  in  the  word  is  T,  we  may  assume  that  the  value  of  ^  is  DJ, 
or  TJ.  The  third  sign  ==*=  is  a  "determinative,"  and  was  not  pronounced. 
Thus  the  first  title  -f  ^  means  "living  ever,"  or  "ever-living."  Of  the 
remaining  signs  jj  1=1  we  know  that  the  two  first  are  P  and  T,  i.e.  the  first 

,   a  A 

two  letters  of  the  name  of  Ptah  ;    the  third  sign       must  then  have   the   value   of 


H  or  something  like  it.     If  the  signs  form  the  name  of  Ptah,  then  the  sign 

a  A 

which  follows  them  must   mean    "loving,"   or    "loved."     Here   again   the   Coptic 

helped  the  early  decipherers  in  assigning  a  phonetic  value  to  T=T,  for  the  Coptic 
word  for  to  love  is  "mere,"  xitepe,  and  they  assumed  that  the  value  of  the  sign 
was  "mer."  Now  in  the  cartouche  of  Ptolemy  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  after  the 

name  Ptah  I3|,  we  have  the  signs  \f\f\t  and  these  are,  clearly,  a  variant  of  1=1. 
We  already  know  that  fijj  =  I,  and  therefore  ^  must  be  the  equivalent  of  T=T  and 
have  the  value  of  "mer."  By  the  comparison  of  texts  containing  variant  forms, 
and  by  the  skilful  use  of  his  knowledge  of  Coptic,  Champollion  succeeded  in 
formulating  the  system  of  decipherment  of  Egyptian  hieroglyphs  that  is, 
substantially,  that  in  use  at  the  present  day. 


The  inscription  on  the  Rosetta  Stone  is  a  copy  of  the  Decree  passed  by 
the  General  Council  of  Egyptian  priests  assembled  at  Memphis  to  celebrate 
the  first  commemoration  of  the  coronation  of  Ptolemy  V,  Epiphanes,  king  of 
all  Egypt.  The  young  king  had  been  crowned  in  the  eighth  year  of  his  reign, 
therefore  the  first  commemoration  took  place  in  the  ninth  year,  in  the  spring 
of  the  year  B.C.  196.  The  original  form  of  the  Decree  is  given  by  the  Demotic 
section,  and  the  Hieroglyphic  and  Greek  versions  were  made  from  it. 

The  inscription  is  dated  on  the  fourth  day  of  the  Greek  month  Xandikos 
(April),  corresponding  to  the  eighteenth  day  of  the  Egyptian  month  Meshir,  or 
Mekhir,  of  the  ninth  year  of  the  reign  of  Ptolemy  V,  Epiphanes,  the  year  in 
which  Aetus,  the  son  of  Aetus,  was  chief  priest  and  Pyrrha,  the  daughter  of 
Philinus,  and  Areia,  the  daughter  of  Diogenes,  and  Irene,  the  daughter  of  Ptolemy, 
were  chief  priestesses.  The  opening  lines  are  filled  with  a  list  of  the  titles 
of  Ptolemy  V,  and  a  series  of  epithets  which  proclaim  the  king's  piety  towards 
the  gods,  and  his  love  for  the  Egyptians  and  his  country.  In  the  second  section 
of  the  inscription  the  priests  enumerate  the  benefits  which  he  had  conferred 
upon  Egypt,  and  which  may  be  thus  summarized  : 

1.  Gifts   of  money   and   corn   to    the   temples. 

2.  Gifts   of  endowments   to   temples. 

3.  Remission   of   one   half  of   taxes   due   to   the    Government. 

4.  Abolition    of   one    half   of   the    taxes. 

5.  Forgiveness   of   debts    owed   by   the   people   to    the   Government. 

6.  Release    of   the    prisoners    who    had    been    languishing    in    gaol    for 


7.  Abolition   of   the   press-gang   for   sailors. 

8.  Reduction    of   fees    payable    by    candidates    for    the    priesthood. 

9.  Reduction  of  the  dues  payable  by  the  temples  to  the  Government. 

10.  Restoration    of   the    services    in    the    temples. 

11.  Forgiveness    of    rebels,    who    were    permitted    to    return    to    Egypt 

and   live   there. 

12.  Despatch  of  troops  by  sea  and  land  against  the  enemies  of  Egypt. 

13.  The   siege   and   conquest  of  the   town  of  Shekan     (Lycopolis). 

14.  Forgiveness   of   the   debts   owed   by   the   priests   to   him. 


15.  Reduction   of  the   tax   on   byssus. 

16.  Reduction    of   the    tax    on    corn   lands. 

17.  Restoration    of   the    temples    of    the    Apis    and    Mnevis    Bulls,    and 

of   the   other   sacred   animals. 

18.  Rebuilding   of  ruined   shrines   and   sacred  buildings,   and    providing 

them   with   endowments. 

As  a  mark  of  the  gratitude  of  the  priesthood  to  the  king  for  all  these 
gracious  acts  of  Ptolemy  V,  it  was  decided  by  the  General  Council  of  the  priests 
of  Egypt  to  "  increase  the  ceremonial  observances  of  honour  which  are  paid  to 
Ptolemy,  the  ever-living,  in  the  temples."  With  this  object  in  view  it  was 
decided  : 

1.  To    make    statues    of    Ptolemy    in    his    character    of    "Saviour    of 

Egypt,"  and  to  set  up  one  in  every  temple  of  Egypt  for  the 
priests  and  people  to  worship. 

2.  To  make  figures  of  Ptolemy  [in  gold],  and  to  place  them  in  gold 

shrines,  which  are  to  be  set  side  by  side  with  the  shrines 
of  the  gods,  and  carried  about  in  procession  with  them. 

3.  To    distinguish    the    shrine    of   Ptolemy    by    means    of   ten    double- 

crowns   of   gold  which   are   to   be    placed   upon   it. 

4.  To    make    the    anniversaries    of    the    birthday  and  coronation  days 

of  Ptolemy,  viz.,  the  XVIIth  and  the  XXXth  days  of  the  month 
Mesore,  festival  days  for  ever. 

5.  To  make  the  first  five  days  of  the  month  of  Thoth  days  of  festival 

for  ever  ;  offerings  shall  be  made  in  the  temples,  and  all  the 
people  shall  wear  garlands. 

6.  To    add    a    new    title    to    the    titles    of   the    priests,    viz.,    "  Priests 

of  the  beneficent  god  Ptolemy  Epiphanes,  who  appeareth  on 
earth,"  which  is  to  be  cut  upon  the  ring  of  every  priest  of 
Ptolemy,  and  inserted  in  every  priestly  document. 

7.  That  the  soldiers  may  borrow  the  shrines  with  figures  of  Ptolemy 

inside  them  from  the  temples,  and  may  take  them  to  their 
quarters,  and  carry  them  about  in  procession. 

8.  That  copies  of  this  Decree  shall  be  cut  upon  slabs  of  basalt  in  the 

"writing  of  the  speech  of  the  god,"  i.e.  hieroglyphs,  and  in  the 
writing  of  the  books,  i.e.  demotic,  and  in  the  writing  of  the 
Ueienin,  i.e.  Greek.  "  And  a  basalt  slab  on  which  a  copy  of 
this  Decree  is  cut  shall  be  set  up  in  the  temples  of  the  first, 
second  and  third  orders,  side  by  side  with  the  statue  of  Ptolemy, 
the  ever-living  god . ' ' 

E.    A.    WALLIS    BUDGE. 

Department   of   Egyptian   and   Assyrian   Antiquities, 

July   12th,    1913. 



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